If you’re new to using fold-over elastic in your doll sewing, be forewarned… shopping and sewing with it can be addictive!
More commonly known as “FOE,” fold-over elastic is a fun and easy way to add a decorative elasticized edge to necklines, arm and leg openings, underwear and swimwear, and all kinds of other doll projects, particularly those made with knit fabric.
Fold-over elastic is designed to be easily folded down the middle and can be found in a variety of widths. The most common width used in doll sewing is 5/8 inch.
Here are five handy tips to help you get started with your next fold-over elastic project…
Five Tips for Sewing with Fold-Over Elastic (FOE)
1. Sew first, cut later. When you stitch the elastic to your project, you’ll want to stretch it slightly as you sew for a nice, smooth finish. Rather than trying to predict exactly how long your elastic will need to be and then fussing with it to make it fit, try using a piece of elastic longer than you anticipate needing. That way you can just trim the end of the elastic after stitching.
2. Baste, fold, stitch. While it’s possible to sandwich the folded elastic over the edge of your fabric and stitch all in one step, you’ll have more control if you first baste the unfolded elastic on the backside of your project, then fold & topstitch on the visible side.
3. Choose the right thread. If the background color of your fold-over elastic is white or a pastel, try using a fine nylon lingerie “invisible” thread, which blends in better than regular sewing thread. This way, your zigzag top-stitching will be less visible. Polyester bobbin thread is another option. Special thanks to Team Tillie Tester Pat for this tip!
4. Find your fave stitch. Many experienced FOE users recommend using either a three-step or wide zigzag stitch or a straight stretch stitch to sew the edges of your elastic. (Check your sewing machine manual if these options are new to you.) Others recommend trying a double needle to create two perfectly aligned straight stitches with a stretch-friendly zigzag on the underside.
5. Finishing touches. After stitching, seal any exposed raw ends of the fold-over elastic by melting the elastic slightly using a lighter or candle flame. Don’t actually touch the flame to the elastic… just get it close enough for the heat to do its thing. Another finishing tip… if your elastic appears warped after stitching, try steaming it to help smooth it out.
BONUS TIP: Have fun shopping! Fold-over elastic is available in a variety of widths and patterns. In addition to your local fabric store, try searching Etsy and/or eBay for your next fold-over elastic purchase. Other sources recommended by fellow seamstresses include Sunshine Shoppe Supply and Elastic By The Yard. You can now also find several fun styles here in our shop at Club Matilda!